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Swine flu vaccine worth €250 mln to be destroyed

The Local · 17 Aug 2011, 11:13

Published: 17 Aug 2011 11:13 GMT+02:00

A report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Wednesday totted up the amount of Pandemrix vaccine, which state health authorities were scrambling to obtain at the height of the pandemic, but are now disposing.

The issue has created bad blood between the state health ministries and their federal counterpart. The state authorities have the responsibility to fund and organise the purchase and administration of vaccines, but they have to follow the recommendations of federal authorities.

The guidelines were for the provision of vaccine for a third of the population - this is the minimum considered necessary to keep everything running and protect a population in general.

Yet the Germans proved less willing than expected, to have the vaccine – after a widely publicized argument between various medics about the safety of GlaxoSmithKline’s product. It was said that Pandemrix had not been sufficiently tested to be administered to the public, after it was licensed in an accelerated process.

GlaxoSmithKline’s initially slow production led to panicky efforts by authorities to secure the supplies they needed while the number of cases increased and the H1N1 virus spread across the world. In the end it turned out that not two, but only one dose was necessary to provoke the desired immune system response – and that for most of those infected, the disease was much milder than expected.

In the end only around seven percent of Germans took the shot, leaving the authorities sitting on stockpiles of the vaccine. Efforts to sell or even give the Pandemrix to other countries have largely failed, the FAZ reported.

Germany’s largest state North Rhine-Westphalia bought up 7.1 million doses of Pandemrix when the pandemic was officially declared. Around a million of these were used, and a small number is likely to still be stored by doctors and pharmacists, leaving more than six million in decentralized state storage. Now that their use-by date has been reached, these doses will have to be disposed of.

Although the controlled burning of vaccine stocks is not expected to be terribly expensive – the FAZ said it costs around €100 a ton – the waste of money cannot be denied.

North Rhine-Westphalia had followed federal guidelines and bought in enough vaccine to inoculate a third of its nearly 18-million population – at a cost of €62 million. This leaves the authorities having to destroy around €46.9 million worth of vaccine – its purchase price plus two years of storage costs.

“We reckon at the end with costs of nearly €47 million costs,” said Serap Celen, the state’s Health Ministry spokesman.

Story continues below…

Efforts made by the state authorities to get the federal government to shoulder some of the costs have repeatedly failed.

In total the states spent €303.2 million on Pandemrix, and are estimated to be left with around €250 million worth of soon to be out-of-date vaccine. Although there different batches have different use-by dates, the last one will be reached at the end of this November. Since the WHO declared the pandemic over, the vaccine is, “not much more than expensive waste,” the FAZ wrote.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:57 August 17, 2011 by marimay
Good. It's all BS anyway.
15:48 August 17, 2011 by jbaker
That's correct - It is all B.S. . There is no Flu vaccine that will prevent you from getting the Flu. Keep your self Healthy by eating correctly and supplementing where you are deficient with certain vitamins.

Most people who recieve the vaccine do get the flu. The vaccines are just full of poisons that weaken your body.

Stop being a sheep by following what the so called medical professionals tell you. It's all a Scam!
03:01 August 18, 2011 by xWolpertinger
jbaker: may I ask for the scientific studies to back up your claims?
10:27 August 18, 2011 by PiggyPoo
@xWolpertinger: Where are the scientific studies which prove that flu vaccines prevent you from going down with the current flu form? Any form of scientific evidence will have been funded by the drug companies anyway. So much for unbiased, independent testing.

I know a great number of people who toddle along to the doc every year for their flu vaccine. Every single one of them is then ill afterwards, to a greater or lesser degree. I don't know a single person who has the vaccine and does not have some form of sniffle/heavy head/throat problems for at least a few days afterwards.

Flu vaccines are based on previous forms of flu and not the current one(s).

Whenever there is an outbreak, the docs always say that children, old people and the sick are more at risk. So if you are a reasonably healthy adult, just eat good food (as jbaker already said) and stop pumping your body full of unnecessary chemicals.

We can only hope that the scenario in "I am legend" (film with Will Smith) never becomes reality.
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